Pakistan is the fourth largest country in the Asia-Pacific region affected by transmittable diseases. In 2012, there were an estimated 87k people living with HIV in Pakistan with the numbers growing at an alarming rate. HIV prevalence in the country is particularly high among people who inject drugs and transgender sex workers. In addition, the use of condoms amongst the general population is low and there is a lack of sterile injecting equipment. Pakistan spends 0.9% of GDP on health care which the UN believes should be at least 2.5%-3%.
On Friday, April 25, 2014, the UNSGSE on AIDS for Asia and Pacific, Mr. J.V.R. Prasada Rao, along with the Director of UNAIDS Asia and Pacific, Mr. Steven Kraus and other key members of the UNAIDS office in Pakistan met with the President of Pakistan, Mr. Mamnoon Hussain in Islamabad. The meeting was part of a tour which aims to highlight the issue to the Government of Pakistan at the highest levels and to the local communities as well as to gather first hand feedback from concerned community organizations.
The UNAIDS delegation was warmly received by the President of Pakistan and exchange of views on this important situation was keenly held by both parties. The President on his part gave his assurance that the Government of Pakistan is strongly committed to achieve the goal of an AIDS free generation by 2030. He termed HIV/AIDS as a manageable, treatable and preventable condition with proper support systems in place.
The UN expressed its interest in assisting the Government to raise awareness among the key affected populations and marginalize the vulnerable groups. The UN also committed to working with the Government of Pakistan to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS in the country so that meaningful and robust solutions could be implemented at all levels of society. Via the Global Fund initiative, the UN has allocated US $34 million to combat HIV/AIDS in Pakistan according to Mr. Rao.
“We can assure you on the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to eradicate this issue and we will also look at other countries in the region to learn from each other and replicate the best practices in Pakistan. I assure you for a positive change in the coming years in Pakistan to deal with the HIV/AIDS issue.”
Mr. Mamnoon Hussain, President of Pakistan.
”90% of HIV cases exist in 10-12 major cities of Pakistan. The country must develop strong city based health programs in order to achieve the 6th Millennium Development Goal. This is something that needs to be done this year. Pakistan is entering a new development syndrome and new initiatives can be gainful.”
Mr. J.V.R. Prasada Rao, UN Secretary General Special Envoy on AIDS for Asia and Pacific.